How to ask for directions in English: Useful phrases and words

questions - Help explaining "Where am I?"

Getting around in English: Asking for locations and directions

When traveling or on business trips, we often find ourselves in new, unfamiliar cities or areas we’ve never been to before. To get to our desired destination, we typically use navigation services like Google Maps. However, sometimes it can be difficult to orient ourselves in a new place. In those situations, the best solution is to ask a local resident for help. English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, so in this article, we’ll go over common questions and responses in English that will be useful during your travels. At the end, you’ll also find 10 practice situations to reinforce what you’ve learned.

Asking for your current location

When you find yourself in an unfamiliar area and can’t get your bearings, the simplest thing to do is ask a local resident for help. Here are some useful expressions for this:

  • “Excuse me, where am I right now?” (This asks directly about your current location)
  • “Could you please tell me what street/area this is?” (Asking specifically about the street name or neighborhood)
  • “I’m a bit lost. Can you help me find…” (State the address or landmark you’re looking for)

Asking for directions

If you know where you need to go but are unsure of which way to head, you can ask:

  • “Could you please tell me how to get to…” (Name your destination)
  • “What’s the best way to get to…” (Asking for the optimal route)
  • “Which way should I go to get to…” (Asking for the proper direction)

How to respond when getting help

  • “Thank you, I understand.” (To indicate you comprehended the directions)
  • “Could you repeat that more slowly, please?” (If you need them to rephrase or speak slower)
  • “I’m still a bit confused. Do you mind showing me on a map?” (Asking them to point it out visually)

Common questions and responses about directions in English

  1. Excuse me, can you help me? This is how you politely ask someone for assistance.
    • Sure, what do you need help with? The person is agreeing to help you and asking what you need.
  2. I’m lost. You say this when you don’t know where you are or which way to go.
    • No problem, let’s see if we can figure out where you need to go. They understand you are lost and want to help you determine your destination.
  3. Do you have a map? You’re asking if they have a map you can look at.
    • Yes, here it is. They have a map and are showing it to you.
  4. I can’t find my way. You don’t know which route or path to take.
    • Let me help you find your way. They will try to give you directions.
  5. Where am I headed? You want to know what your current direction or destination is.
    • You’re heading towards [place]. They tell you the place you’re going towards.
  6. I’m looking for [place/name]. You tell them the specific place or address you need to find.
    • I know where that is, follow me. They know the location and will lead you there.
  7. Can you give me directions? A direct request for them to provide instructions on how to get somewhere.
    • Of course, let me explain. They agree to give you directions.
  8. Am I going the right way? You want confirmation if you’re headed the correct direction.
    • Yes, you’re on the right track. They reassure you’re going the right way.
  9. I think I’m lost. You feel you’ve gotten turned around and don’t know your bearings.
    • Don’t worry, we’ll find your way. They’re letting you know not to stress, they’ll help get you oriented.
  10. Is this the way to [place]? You’re checking if the path you’re on goes to your desired destination.
    • Yes, just keep going straight. They confirm you’re on the correct route, and to continue straight ahead.
  11. Let’s ask someone for directions. You’re suggesting to ask another person for help with finding your way.
    • Excuse me, can you tell us how to get to [place]? You are politely asking them for directions to a specific destination.
  12. Do you know where [place] is?
    You are asking if they are familiar with the location of that place.

    • Yes, it’s just around the corner. They know where it is and it’s very close by.
  13. I’m trying to find my way back to [location]. You are attempting to return to a place you’ve already been.
    • Let me help you find your way back. They are offering to provide you directions to get back there.
  14. Could you point me in the right direction? You need guidance on which way to head.
    • Sure, go straight ahead and then turn left at the next intersection.
      They give you step-by-step instructions which way to go.
  15. I seem to have lost my way. You’ve gotten turned around and don’t know which way you’re going.
    • Don’t worry, we’ll find it together. They reassure you and say you’ll figure it out as a team.
  16. Is there a landmark nearby? You’re asking if there are any obvious, recognizable buildings or sites close by.
    • Yes, there’s a big red building on the corner. They point out a distinct, easily spotted landmark.
  17. Could you show me on the map? You want them to indicate the route visually using a map.
    • Of course, let me take a look. They agree to use the map to explain the directions.
  18. I’m looking for the nearest [restaurant/store]. You need to find the closest establishment of that type.
    • It’s just down this street, on your left. They give you the location a short distance away.
  19. Can you give me landmarks to look out for? You want them to list unique markers that will guide you there.
    • Sure, you’ll pass a gas station, then a park, and it’s the third building on the right. They provide a sequence of landmarks that lead to your destination.
  20. I think I took a wrong turn.
    You believe you made an incorrect turn and went the wrong way.

    • Let’s retrace our steps and try again. They suggest going back and re-attempting the route.

Directional words and phrases in English

When someone is giving you directions, it will be helpful to understand these common English words and phrases:

  • Go straight/straight ahead – This means to continue moving forward in the same direction without turning.
  • Turn left/right – These instructions tell you to change direction by going left or right at an intersection or corner.
  • It’s on your left/right – This indicates your destination will be on the left or right side as you’re moving forward.
  • Take the first/second/third left/right – You’ll need to count the side streets and turn at the specified one – first, second, or third.
  • Go up/down the street – Move along the street toward the higher or lower numbers/end.
  • Cross the road/intersection – You need to walk across and over to the other side of the street or junction.
  • Go past the… – Continue moving forward beyond the specified landmark without turning.
  • It’s opposite/next to/behind… – Your destination will be directly across from, right next door to, or behind the stated reference point.

Knowing these path and location words will help you better understand directions given by locals. Don’t hesitate to also ask them to repeat the instructions more slowly or show you on a map.

Practice – Where Am I? (Quiz)

Read the sentences below and choose the missing word from the options provided to complete them correctly.

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questions - Help explaining "Where am I?"

Practice. Where am I?

Now, where are you ____ for?

I don't think that's going to be ____

Excuse me I ____ if you can help me

Because you're in that road ____ now.

Why do you ____ that?

Well, my ____ is that I'm lost.

Yes, I have but I can't ____ it.

I want to ____ to Nutfield Avenue.

I see you have a ____ in your car.

I certainly will if I ____

Your score is

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